More than just buzzwords: how Kester Black cements itself in sustainable beauty

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

Notorious for its negative impact on our planet, the beauty industry contributes to pollution and drains natural resources in a plethora of ways. 

While plenty of brands can claim to be sustainable or ethical – also known as “greenwashing” – cosmetics company Kester Black claims to be more than just following trends or buzzwords.

The B-certified New Zealand beauty company is carbon neutral, vegan, sustainable, and donates 2 per cent of its revenue to social causes.

Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

Launched in 2008 initially as a fashion company, founder Anna Ross was designing jewellery until she realised a gap in the beauty industry – adding vegan nail polish as the first addition in her product line.

“After three years working with jewellery, I wanted to do more,” Ross told the Otago Daily Times.

“I thought this was it. There seems to be a real gap in the market for vegan, cruelty-free nail polish.”

The company was the first to market with vegan, cruelty-free, halal-certified, and 10-free nail polishes. {10-free is considered the purest of all free nail polishes, created without 10 of the most common chemicals found in nail polishes: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, parabens, animal by-products, and fragrance.}

The current product line includes eyeliners, nail polish, nail polish remover, and lipsticks. The company says it uses plant-derived ingredients wherever possible with more active natural compounds and leaving a smaller environmental footprint. Furthermore, suppliers undergo third-party audits to maintain standards and ensure ethical practices throughout the supply chain.

The materials used for Kester Black’s packaging are eco-friendly, with prints on uncoated, 100-per-cent recycled or FSC-certified stock with soy ink.

In addition, the company use 100-per-cent renewable and certified carbon-neutral energy supplied by Power Shop – a certification approved by the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) overseen by the Australian government.

Ross says the technology is there for eco and carbon-friendly production, but manufacturers avoid testing its viability.

“The beauty industry is quite complex and, to say the least, not exactly in line with circular economy practices,” she added.

“The more we can get the general public excited about this new way of design/manufacturing and consumption, the more every industry will respond and embrace new technology and innovation.”

Kester Black is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to establish warehouses in strategic locations, maintain sufficient stock, expand its product range, and optimise e-commerce and marketing.

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.



Subscribe – it's free